U.K. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries opened the virtual Creative Coalition Festival on Tuesday with a rallying speech about the creative industries, but stayed quiet on all matters relating to the future of broadcasters Channel 4 and the BBC.
In what appeared to be a pre-recorded segment, Dorries talked up the music sector as examples of the U.K.’s “creative powerhouse,” referencing Coldplay and Adele’s new albums as well as Dua Lipa’s hit song “Levitating.” “It’s our writers and musicians and designers and composers who are the most celebrated around the world today and do the most to sell the U.K. abroad,” said Dorries. “They wield an incredible amount of influence and because of that, the reputation of global Britain depends on them.”
The MP also revealed that she has been “working closely” with “X Factor” finalist Rebecca Ferguson, who last year called for a parliamentary inquiry into the music industry to hold powerful managers, agents and executives to account. The star previously revealed that she was bullied, harassed and racially abused by senior executives in the industry.
Dorries said Ferguson “has bravely spoken out about her own experiences of bullying and harassment in the music industry. We are seriously looking very carefully at the issue of music streaming, competition and fair payment to make sure that the modern music industry works for everyone.”
No specifics were given, however, on what exactly an action plan will look like. (The government last year took on few of the recommendations put forward by an “Economics of Music Streaming” report.)
Dorries quickly segued into a new £50 million pot of funds “to support creative businesses around the U.K.” The Global Screen Fund will receive £21 million, while a games fund will get £8.4 million. Around £18.4 million will go towards an extension of the Creative Scale-Up Program “to support the fastest growing creative businesses across the country.”
A Creative Industries Sector Vision document will be published in the summer, said Dorries.
Absent from Dorries’ speech was any indication of what the Department of Culture, Media and Sport — which she oversees — will decide on the future of Channel 4, which the government is keen to restructure and potentially sell off. The delayed results of a lengthy public consultation are expected this year. Also missing was any mention of the BBC license fee, which has been frozen for two years.
The Culture Secretary, who has been in the post for four months, appeared on Channel 4 News on Monday, where she defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently embroiled in controversy over a series of government parties during lockdown.
Johnson received backlash on Monday when he falsely accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute disgraced children’s presenter Jimmy Savile when he was director of public prosecutions for the Crown Prosecution Services. There has been no evidence to date proving that Starmer was involved in the Savile decision.
Asked about the prime minister’s comments, Dorries repeatedly said “I don’t know” and assured that “the prime minister tells the truth.”